No. 17 UConn pulls away from Grambling State, 88-59

R.J. Cole collected 18 points, seven assists and four steals Saturday to lift No. 17 UConn to an 88-59 victory over Grambling State in a nonconference game at Storrs, Conn.

Cole did most of his damage at the foul line, making 10 of 11 shots to propel the Huskies (8-1) to their third straight win.

UConn’s Jordan Hawkins made three 3-pointers to highlight his 15-point performance, and Isaiah Whaley added 12 points and eight rebounds.

Also for the Huskies, Akok Akok recorded 10 points and four of his team’s eight blocks, while Jalen Gaffney chipped in with 10 points.

UConn played without its second- and third-leading scorers as Adama Sanogo and Tyrese Martin were sidelined by injuries. Sanogo is expected to miss at least three weeks with an abdominal strain, while Martin is out two-to-four weeks with an avulsion fracture in his left wrist.

Grambling State’s Cam Christon drained four 3-pointers to highlight his 18-point performance in the first half. He was slowed after receiving an unintentional hit to the forehead late in the half and did not return to the game in the second.

A.J. Taylor collected 10 points and 10 rebounds and Eric Parrish had eight points for the Tigers (3-6), who committed 16 turnovers as the Huskies were credited with nine steals.

UConn appeared poised to blow out Grambling State from the get-go, with Andre Jackson’s emphatic one-handed dunk in transition giving the Huskies a 17-6 lead.

Christon, however, began to heat up by making three 3-pointers during the Tigers’ subsequent 9-2 run.

Christon’s fourth 3-pointer trimmed UConn’s lead to 32-26 with 7:02 left in the first half, but Whaley ignited a late spurt for the Huskies. He drained a 3-pointer, three free throws and a dunk to highlight a 15-4 surge to end the half that lifted UConn back to a 47-30 lead at halftime.

UConn kept its foot on the gas to start the second half, scoring 27 of the first 39 points to seize a 74-42 lead with 8:04 to play. The Huskies put it in cruise control from there.